USC heads east to take on Duke, UNC

first_imgAfter a 2-0 win over UC Riverside last Friday, the USC women’s soccer team continues their season in Durham, North Carolina, this weekend with games against two top 20 teams.The Women of Troy take on No. 18 Duke on Friday and       No. 4 ranked North Carolina on Sunday.After going 2-1 to kick off the season, USC goes into this weekend ranked No. 15 in the country.Earlier this season, in games against Texas Tech and Florida State, the team proved that they could compete with the finest of programs, earning their position as one of the best teams in the nation.This weekend, the Women of Troy will face some tough competition, but head coach Keidane McAlpine has the utmost faith in his team.“Having played Texas Tech and Florida State in the opening weekend has set the team into focus from the beginning — this is just the carry over,” McAlpine said. “They seem pretty relaxed and locked in.”Not only is the coaching staff confident in the performance for this upcoming weekend, but the team appears calm, cool and collected as well.But Reilly Parker, a redshirt junior and transfer from North Carolina, said that though the team seems poised from the outside, there is a healthy sense of urgency behind the scenes.“I think there has definitely been a raise in the level of competition at practice,” she said. “And I think that’s because we know we’re playing two extremely competitive teams that grind for 90 minutes and win games with their grit and their heart. We had to prepare accordingly.”With two challenging games ahead of them, the Women of Troy are planning on taking it one game at a time.“The way we build our program is one of development. We want to get better throughout the year, regardless of opponent,” McAlpine said. “As far as this weekend, we only talk about Duke, we haven’t talked about North Carolina. There are definitely some things we’ve worked on this week that will be useful in both games, but they will be useful in both games and beyond.”According to Parker, the game against Duke will be exciting to watch as the Women of Troy face a formation they have not yet seen this season. Because of this, the team will alter their usual game plan in order to compete.“We worked on how we’re going to play within Duke’s system,” Parker said. “Practice this week has put emphasis on a lot of the little details that we really have to be locked in on. If you’re not, it’s going to show when it comes to game time.”The Women of Troy have yet to face either the Blue Devils or the Tar Heels under the leadership and direction of second-year head coach McAlpine.“In a game like this, you don’t have time to think about it, you just have to know [what you’re doing],” Parker said. “The biggest thing has been being present in the moment.”This not only provides a remarkable opportunity for USC to make a nationwide statement, but it also serves as a chance for elite players Parker and Amanda Rooney, who also transferred from North Carolina, to go back to where it all started while now representing the Cardinal and Gold.“Like a lot of us who have transferred, we have a lot to prove,” Parker said. “We want to show that even though one school didn’t necessarily work out, that we can kill it for this new team and be a presence. I really thought that I would be nervous, but I’m not. But I want to beat them, we all do. Every game is a battle.”This weekend’s matches are just the first in a season where McAlpine and the rest of his coaching staff have upped the ante for opponents.Durham will be one of the first of these trials where the team can demonstrate its worth as a program.“We’re feeling good,” McAlpine said. “I think any time you play top teams it’s a chance to measure yourself. As much as you want to be good early, you want to be great late. So these two games are stepping in that direction.”last_img

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